Canada has taken further steps to regulate internet giants Google and Facebook, with the release of new draft rules to enforce the recently passed Online News Act.
The law, deemed necessary by Canada’s media industry, to prevent online news businesses being elbowed out of the market by internet giants, became law in June and is expected to be implemented in December. It is considered part of a global trend to make internet platforms pay for news.
Under the draft rules, unveiled on Friday, companies such as Google and Facebook-parent Meta will have to negotiate deals with news publishers, and pay a portion of their global revenues, based on a calculation determined by the government. As a result, Google is expected to pay C$172 million per year, while Meta is projected to pay C$60 million.
Rachel Curran, Meta Canada’s head of public policy, has criticized the law as “not equipped to address the fundamentally flawed premise,” and as a result the company ceased news sharing in Canada last month.
A government official has countered, citing the fact that Google and Facebook have a dominant position in terms of being the “gatekeeper to content,” and as such have a responsibility to “bargain fairly with us”.
The draft rules have also laid out some restrictions; for instance that any agreements made with internet giants must also cover local, Indigenous and official language minority community news businesses. Furthermore, companies will have the option to pay news outlets through both monetary and non-monetary contributions, and still take into consideration any pre-existing deals.
The CRTC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, will be responsible for the negotiations between news organizations and internet giants, such as Google and Meta. It is expected to begin setting up a framework this autumn, with the aim of initiating mandatory bargaining by early 2025.
Though Meta has pulled out for now, data provided by independent tracking firms shows that their decision to block news links in Canada has had almost no impact on Canadians’ usage of Facebook.
It remains to be seen how the implementation of the law will have an effect on the news industry, but it is clear that Canada is determined to make internet giants pay for news.